William II of Holland

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William II
Count of Holland
File:Caesar van Everdingen Count Willem II of Holland Granting Privileges.jpg
Count Willem II of Holland Granting Privileges by Caesar van Everdingen and Pieter Post, 1654
Spouse(s) Elisabeth of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Noble family House of Holland
Father Floris IV, Count of Holland
Mother Matilda of Brabant
Born February 1227
Died 28 January 1256(1256-01-28) (aged 28)

William II of Holland (February 1227 – 28 January 1256) was a Count of Holland and Zeeland (1234–56). He was elected as German anti-king in 1247 and remained king until his death.


File:William II of HollandA.jpg
Coat of Arms of William II. in a medieval manuscript.

He was the son of Floris IV and Matilda of Brabant. When his father was killed at a tournament at Corbie, William was only seven years old. His uncles, William and Otto (Bishop of Utrecht), were his guardians until 1239.

File:Willem Thibaut - Willem van Henegouwen - Lakenhal.jpg
William II of Holland as "Willem van Henegouwen" in stained-glass window from 1588 by Willem Thibaut, located in the Museum De Lakenhal

With the help of Henry II, Duke of Brabant and the archbishop of Cologne, he was elected in octobre 1247, at age 20,[1][2] as king of Germany after Emperor Frederick II was excommunicated. After a siege of five months, he took Aachen in 1248 from Frederick's followers. Only then could he be crowned as king. He gained a certain amount of theoretical support from some of the German princes after his marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of Otto the Child, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, in 1252; but, although "William lacked neither courage nor chivalrous qualities... his power never extended beyond the Rhineland."[3]

In his home county, William fought with Flanders for control of Zeeland. He made himself (being king of Germany) count of Zeeland. In July 1253, he defeated the Flemish army at Westkapelle (in modern-day Belgium) and a year later a cease-fire followed. His anti-Flemish policy worsened his relationship with France.

From 1254, he fought a number of wars against the West Frisians. He built some strong castles in Heemskerk and Haarlem and created roads for the war against the Frisians.

William gave city rights to Haarlem, Delft, 's-Gravenzande and Alkmaar. A castle he had built in 1248 was the beginning of the city of The Hague.


In battle near Hoogwoud on 28 January 1256, William tried to traverse a frozen lake by himself, because he was lost, but his horse fell through the ice. In this vulnerable position, William was killed by the Frisians, who secretly buried him under the floor of a house. His body was recovered 26 years later by his son Floris V, who took terrible vengeance on the West-Frisians. William was then buried in Middelburg.[4] Contemporary sources, including the chronicle of Melis Stoke, portray William as an Arthurian hero.[5]



  1. Text on monument in Rijnsburg, Katwijk, the Netherlands .
  2. IJpelaan.nl Archive Graven Willem II
  3. Kantorowicz, Ernst, Frederick II, p. 638.
  4. Graaf, Ronald P. de (2004). Oorlog om Holland, 1000-1375. Verloren. pp. 231ff. ISBN 9789065508072.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Tom Verschaffel, ed. (2000). Koningsmoorden. Leuven UP. pp. 150ff. ISBN 9789058670731.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

See also

William II of Holland
Born: Febaurary 1228 Died: 28 January 1256
Preceded by
Floris IV
Count of Holland and Zeeland
Succeeded by
Floris V
Preceded by
Henry Raspe
(as anti-king)
King of Germany
(formally King of the Romans)

(anti-king to Conrad IV until 1254)
Succeeded by
Richard of Cornwall and
Alfonso of Castile